It was the intimate feel and feminine look of lingerie that first piqued Shannon Nielsen’s interest in lingerie design. The more she studied the process of designing and making lingerie, the more Shannon realized that it is such a complex layer of clothing. Not only do the designs have to be beautiful, but each piece has to be highly functional and extremely comfortable. That didn’t scare Shannon at all though, instead she took it as a challenge and saw it as an opportunity to start her luxury lingerie label: Shannon Marie.
Shannon Marie is a projection of Shannon’s ambition and a realization of her creative vision. She loves that through her brand, she’s able to work one-on-one with her customers to create the perfect design and to handcraft each lingerie piece for them. Couture lingerie? Sounds like it, doesn’t it.
Englave: When did you launch your Shannon Marie label?
Shannon: Summer 2013
Englave: Did you study lingerie design or are you self-taught?
Shannon: Even though in my first year of University I knew I wanted to specialize in lingerie I had no idea how to go about it since my school offered very few courses in undergarment construction. So, I took as many courses as I could through the school such as corsestry making and bra construction and began reading books on bras and underwear, lingerie fabrics, sewing techniques, etc. It was my strong sewing skills, self-determination and admiration for lingerie design that led me to develop the skills I needed to create successful lingerie collections.
Englave: What is your favorite part of the design process?
Shannon: My favourite part of the design process would have to be seeing my vision come to reality. It is such a rewarding and thrilling experience!
Englave: What kind of material that you usually use for your lingerie?
Shannon: Lace, satin, silk, jersey, stretch mesh and other sheer fabrics
Englave: Where do you source the material?
Shannon: Finding the right fabrics for lingerie is extremely challenging. It took a lot of time and research to find a local supplier that provided fabrics with a good balance between all properties – stretch, rigidity, softness, and sheerness. It is important to me that all the products I create are comfortable and wear well, therefore only the softest and finest quality fabrics are chosen. With these fabrics, my customer will be satisfied of the garments longevity, luxury and quality, which are all strictly important when investing in an undergarment.
Englave: What is your biggest source of inspiration?
Shannon: I am aware of industry trends but I do not restrict myself to them. Therefore, when I look for inspiration I look at the world around me. I can be inspired by anything from fabric, words, movies, music, to art. For example, my Spring/Summer ’14 collection was inspired by ballet and three distinct words: ‘purity,’ ‘lightness,’ and ‘fragility.‘ Whereas, my current, self-titled collection for Fall/Winter ’14 started with me just sketching a bunch of ideas that I had in my head, then looking to fabric to find inspiration for a colour story.
Englave: What is your biggest challenge as an emerging designer?
Shannon: Exposure and funding are definitely the biggest challenges. It is so difficult to get noticed when you are competing with well established brands that have the money to spend on large advertising campaigns. Given my limited marketing budget, it is hard for me to let people know what I can do and how I can do it better than the big box stores. Starting a business and coming up with new designs and collections takes, not only time, but money. I operate my business full-time and some months are hard to predict, which makes it difficult to budget.
Englave: What is Shannon Marie woman like?
Shannon: The Shannon Marie woman is feminine, professional, fashionable and understands the importance of well-fitting and quality undergarments. She is not of a certain age but rather a certain mindset where she believes that having custom made lingerie will suit her better than the mass-produced brands. She may have trouble fitting into the standard bra sizes or may not like what is on the market and available to her or she may have an idea of an undergarment she would like but cannot find it anywhere.
My brand allows women the opportunity to order designer handmade lingerie and speak to and work with the head designer directly – like their own personal designer. My customers love that!
Englave: Where can we purchase your lingerie?
Shannon: You can purchase my products at byshannonmarie.com or my Etsy shop at etsy.com/shop/ByShannonMarie. For any custom orders clients can email me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org.